Everything You Need to Know About Growing and Caring for Jade Plants at Home

Jade plants, or more specifically Crassula ovata, are popular houseplants that can live for decades with proper care. Thanks to their relatively slow growth rate and attractive bare stem, they’re commonly trimmed into small trees to use for bonsai and similar shaping techniques. Jade Plant Care is easy, but there are a few key details you need to get right for healthy growth over the years. Here we’ll take you through everything you need to know about growing and nurturing Jade Plants at home including how to plant; the best soil mix; light, temperature, and humidity considerations; how to water and fertilize; when and how to prune, propagate and re-pot these beautiful plants.

For more, see our guide to the best plant shops and nurseries delivering Jade Plants nationwide throughout the United States.

Contents:


Jade Plant Care – The Essentials

Jade plants thrive in temperatures between 55 and 75 degrees F, but they only need average humidity levels. Give them at least four hours of bright light per day. Keep the soil light and well-draining with a pH of around 6.0. Water regularly in the summer but only when the soil is dry in winter.


About Jade Plants

About Jade Plants

Origins, Native Range and History

Crassula ovata is native only to specific parts of Mozambique and South Africa. It’s found growing wild in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces, but it’s now cultivated and sold around the world as a houseplant. In its native environment, it receives little water and a lot of harsh sunlight, so it’s a relatively tough plant despite its beauty. Jade plants are among the oldest houseplants with over 100 years of continuous cultivation.

Jade Plant Botanical Characteristics

As an evergreen that grows in a hot and dry environment, most jade plant varieties feature thick and fleshy leaves in colors ranging from lime to dark green. Most varieties develop red tips to the leaves when given plenty of direct sunlight. The stems become woody and exposed as the plant grows, giving it the appearance of a shrub or tiny tree.

Crassula ovata vs Pachira aquatica – Money Plant vs Money Tree

While Crassula ovata is commonly called the jade plant or money plant, it’s easy to confuse it for the Pachira aquatica. Pachira plants are also called money plants or money trees. These plants have long and thin leaves with a softer texture, unlike the short, plump, and rounded leaves of the jade plant. Both make good houseplants, but they have different needs and won’t thrive if confused with each other.

Jade Plant Cultivars

Popular Jade Plant Cultivars

‘Monstruosa’ is the most popular cultivar for indoor growth thanks to its large size. Also named ‘Gollum’ or ‘Hobbit’, this variety features tube-shaped leaves that really show off the stem. ‘Undulata’ is popular for being packed with wavy leaves that form a solid mass, while ‘Bronze Beauty’ offers copper-colored leaves for a different look.

Lifespan

Jade plants are among some of the longest living houseplants with proper care. There are plenty of specimens over 50 years old in private homes still thriving. There are no established records on exactly how long a jade plant can live. The plant has no specific lifespan and can generally grow as long as you keep it happy. You may have to hand your plant down to a new caretaker eventually if you’re successful enough.

Toxicity of Jade Plants

Crassula ovata is toxic to cats, dogs, and horses and mildly irritating to some people when touched. If you have pets that like to chew on plants, keep the jade plant on a shelf or table they can’t reach. Large jade plants can be pruned so that leaves and small stems aren’t accessible to pets.

Uses and Benefits

Due to its toxicity and slow growth, the jade plant’s main use is simply decoration. However, it is one of the top plants for improving indoor air quality. NASA’s latest study on indoor air pollution found that jade plants were the best at absorbing toluene. Toluene can negatively affect the entire nervous system, so it’s something you definitely don’t want in the air.


Jade Plants Meaning & Symbolism

As their common name suggests, many cultures use the money plant to represent wealth. Its rounded leaves look like coins. The bright to dark green color is associated with both growth and money in many places. In Feng Shui, it’s primarily used to draw in good luck and is traditionally placed near the door.


How to Grow Jade Plants at Home

How to Grow Jade Plants at Home

Unlike many other tropical or warm-weather plants, jade plants are easy enough to grow at home as long as you can provide bright and direct light. Jade plants are also perfect for a range of living spaces from small and tiny apartments to larger open spaces.

Jade Plant Growth Expectations

They’re slow-growing, but eventually, they’ll get big enough you’ll need to plan for them from the beginning. Jade plants can top out at anywhere from 6 to 10 feet in height after a few decades of growth. Pruning can keep the plant as small as you like, but eventually, it may need propagation from a cutting instead. Expect the plant to only grow about 2 to 3 inches in height per year with the best care.

Preparing for Planting

While jade plants do eventually grow large, they usually start out very small. They need to be somewhat rootbound to thrive, so keep the potting vessel sized to the root ball of the plant. Don’t give the plant more than half an inch or soil of loose soil between the roots and the vessel. Make sure to choose a warm location that is free from drafts.

The Best Soil Mix for Jade Plants

The Best Soil Mix for house plants

As a desert plant, Crassula ovata grows best in a light and airy soil mix. Try a product designed for cacti and orchids. Keep the pH slightly acidic at around 6.0. If you have to mix your own, aim for 1 part peat moss, 1 part aged compost or other organic material, and 3 parts coarse pebble and sand mix. This will encourage good drainage and keep the jade plant from rotting. You can also mix in coir and crushed pumice. Position the jade plant so its roots are just covered by the soil and the base of its stem is exposed. Burying the stem at all will cause it to rot rather than root.

Jade Plant Light Preferences

Jade plants have a strong need for bright, well-lit environments to truly thrive. If they don’t get enough light, they’ll get spindly with weak leaves and very slow growth. Aim for a spot near a south or east-facing window, skylight, or sunroom. You’ll likely need to provide supplemental lighting for at least part of the year. They only need about 4 hours of direct light per day though so be careful to find the right balance between direct and indirect light (partially drawn blinds can help disperse some of the direct sun rays). If you’re using a light, try to provide at least 200 watts or the equivalent to keep the plant growing steadily.

Temperature and Humidity Preferences

Like many other desert plants, jade plants can handle average home humidity levels just fine. Don’t place them near heating vents or other sources of hot dry air, but 30% to 50% humidity is where they thrive like just humans. Keep them above 50 degrees F at all times. They can handle cooler temperatures around 55 to 60 degrees F in the winter, but they prefer to stay in the 70s when actively growing in the spring and summer.


Jade Plant Care

How To Care for Jade Plants

How to Water Jade Plants

Jade plants are tricky to keep perfectly watered. Since they’re desert plants, they can handle a little drying out. Yet their succulent type leaves won’t show signs of water stress until the plant is nearly dead. Try to keep the soil moist but never soggy in the summer when temperatures are high. Make sure water drains rapidly so it’s never actually sitting around the roots.

A good trick is to feel the top of the soil regularly and water it when it feels dry to the touch. When winter arrives and the plant is kept in cooler temperatures, only water once the soil is completely dry. This watering will usually only occur once a month, even for the largest plants. Water thoroughly until it runs out of the pot through the bottom and use filtered or rain water for the best results.

How and When to Fertilize Jade Plants

As slow growers, jade plants only need a fraction of the fertilizer required by some houseplants. Only fertilize your plant with a balanced houseplant solution once every six months. Make sure the soil is completely wet before applying any liquid fertilizers since jade plant roots are easily burned. Avoid fertilizers high in nitrogen alone since jade plants are designed to grow slowly.

Pruning Jade Plants

Pruning can be used at almost any time to control the height, width, and shape of the jade plant. They’re not too sensitive to having stems and leaves removed, which is part of their popularity as bonsai. It’s not necessary to the health of the plant, but it’s the only way to really control how it looks. Never remove more than 20 percent of the total growth of the plant at once. Give it a few months of summer growth to recover before returning to make another trim.

Propagating New Plants

How to propagate Jade Plants

One of the reasons jade plants are so popular is their easy propagation cycle. Leaves and branches often fall off on their own and start rooting right in the pot. Almost any piece you trim off when pruning that has leaves or bud nodules has a chance to root and grow. Cuttings should be at least three inches long for the best results. Let the cutting dry for a day or two, then place it on a tray of damp vermiculite and peat moss. Mist the tray only when it dries out and you’ll soon see new roots forming on the jade plant cutting.

When and How to Repot Jade Plants

Jade plants love to be rootbound, so don’t rush to repot them constantly. If you notice growth stalling out, try sizing up by just ¼ to ½ an inch of soil around the roots. Let the plant dry out a little and remove it gently from the pot. Knock loose any old soil clinging to the outside of the roots, then gently place it in the new empty pot. Sift in the soil mix around the root ball and gently tamp it all down. Once repotted, a jade plant shouldn’t need a new vessel for at least a few years.


Common Problems & How to Treat them

Common Jade Plant Problems and Pests and How to Deal with Them

Watch Out For:

  • Soft drooping leaves that are wrinkled and fall off easily: Underwatering is usually the culprit, although overwatering can cause the same symptoms. If the roots look healthy, try watering more.
  • Yellow leaves that dry up from the tip inward: Overwatering is more likely than underwatering with color changes. Look for black or slimy roots and trim them off, then change the soil mix for better drainage and water less.
  • Leaf drop: Aside from watering issues, leaf drop on jade plants is a sign of low temperatures or humidity. Keep the plant a little warmer and try a very light misting of the plant.

Common Pests and Diseases

Jade plants are fairly disease and pest resistant, but there are a few issues that affect them.

  • Mealybugs: Look closely at the joints where the leaves meet the stem. If you notice blobs of white cotton-like material, you have mealybugs. That white fluff is honeydew, a sign the bugs are sucking your plant’s sap. It can turn black as sooty mold grows on it. Clean your plants thoroughly with a Q-tip soaked in rubbing alcohol once a week until the signs of mealybugs subside.
  • Spider mites: They’re less common than mealybugs, but they’re cover the underside of leaves with fine webs. You may notice brown or black mottling on the leaves as well. Oils and soaps usually used for these pests can kill jade plants due to their special respiration cycle, so stick with alcohol wipes and swabs to remove the mites manually.

Essential Tools to Have Around

Essential House Plant Tools

Since jade plants need a lot of water but are also prone to root rot, a moisture probe is recommended. The meter will tell you when the soil is drying out enough to water again without risking drowning the roots. If you plan to bonsai your jade plant, you’ll also want a selection of fine pruning shears and snips. General houseplant fertilizer is fine for jade plants since they only need occasional feeding.


Wrap Up

As one of the easiest houseplants to care for, it’s no wonder jade plants remain popular today. They’re not quite as showy as other plants, but they’re reliable and fun to prune into cool shapes. Pick up a few new jade plants for your collection now that you know how to best care for them.


Jade Plant Care FAQ:

Jade plants have a strong need for bright, well-lit environments to truly thrive. If they don’t get enough light, they’ll get spindly with weak leaves and very slow growth. Aim for a spot near a south or east-facing window, skylight, or sunroom. You’ll likely need to provide supplemental lighting for at least part of the year. They only need about 4 hours of direct light per day though so be careful to find the right balance between direct and indirect light (partially drawn blinds can help disperse some of the direct sun rays).

Aside from watering issues, leaf drop on jade plants is a sign of low temperatures or humidity. Keep the plant a little warmer and try a very light misting of the plant. 

Jade plants thrive in temperatures between 55 and 75 degrees F, but they only need average humidity levels. Give them at least four hours of bright light per day. Keep the soil light and well-draining with a pH of around 6.0. Water regularly in the summer but only when the soil is dry in winter.

A very light misting with filtered water can be beneficial to the plant but be careful not to saturate the foliage as stagnant water can lead to fungal infections, pests, and diseases. 

As a general rule, I’d recommend not adding coffee grounds to the soil base as it’s really difficult to control the acidity level in the soil base. A good all-purpose succulent or cacti fertilizer is a better alternative. 

Pruning can help to promote new growth and also present the Jade plant as fuller and bushier. 

As a desert plant, Crassula ovata grows best in a light and airy soil mix. Try a product designed for cacti and orchids. Keep the pH slightly acidic at around 6.0. If you have to mix your own, aim for 1 part peat moss, 1 part aged compost or other organic material, and 3 parts coarse pebble and sand mix. 

Pruning can be used at almost any time to control the height, width, and shape of the jade plant. They’re not too sensitive to having their stems and leaves removed, which is part of their popularity as bonsai. It’s not necessary to the health of the plant, but it’s the only way to really control how it looks. Never remove more than 20 percent of the total growth of the plant at once. 

One of the reasons jade plants are so popular is their easy propagation cycle. Leaves and branches often fall off on their own and start rooting right in the pot. Almost any piece you trim off when pruning that has leaves or bud nodules has a chance to root and grow. Cuttings should be at least three inches long for the best results. Let the cutting dry for a day or two, then place it on a tray of damp vermiculite and peat moss. 

Yellow leaves that dry up from the tip inward with noticeable changes in the plant’s color is a common sign of overwatering. Look for black or slimy roots and trim them off, then change the soil mix for better drainage and water less.

Author

I’ve long been fascinated with the world of flowers, plants, and floral design. I come from a family of horticulturists and growers and spent much of my childhood in amongst the fields of flowering blooms and greenhouses filled with tropical plants, cacti, and succulents from all over the world. Today, my passion has led me to further explore the world of horticulture, botany, and floristry and I'm always excited to meet and collaborate with fellow enthusiasts and professionals from across the globe. I hold a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and have trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris.

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